It doesn’t have the roaring Whitney Houston ballad of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) or the Mel Brooks hilarity of Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), but Director Otto Bathurst’s new take on the oft-repeated tale has one thing these older versions don’t.
1. Paul Anderson (Arthur from Peaky Blinders) going medieval on some people’s asses. 2. Taron Egerton (of Kingsman fame) somehow pulling off a Saving Private Ryan-style motif, but with bows and arrows! 3. Jamie Foxx donning Morgan Freeman make-up and going down swinging!
Hey! That’s three things. Maybe this movie has a little more to offer than the critical reception suggests.
I think so.
Something genuinely well handled, was the adaptation of the global political climate to make the movie feel relevant. Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood; the only appeal in a remake is the way in which the story is told. The film introduces Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) in the midst of the brutal violence of the crusades (imagery reflecting the various fronts of the War on Terror). There he meets and is tied in fate to Little John (Jamie Foxx), a Muslim crusader who finds a common bond with Loxley after they discover a mutual enemy – the war machine paid for by taxes collected by the sinister Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) in order to keep the war going.
So the usual suspects get together (Peaky Blinders style) to rob the Royal Treasury. Tim Minchin factors into it somehow as an, even more, Jesus-like Russel Brand (playing Friar Tuck), a role suited to his typically annoying persona.
Ben Mendelsohn uses Trumpish disinformation as the evil Sheriff. But let’s be honest, beyond a mild intrigue in its political commentary, this Robin Hood is a chalky sketch of a version of the fabled poor man’s thief. There’s very little meat on the bones, in spite of the modern glaze. Make no mistake.
The action is fine and the story plays out well enough. The scene with Jamie Foxx training Taron Egerton is fun. Although it made little sense to me that Foxx, the supposed master, would die rather pathetically in the end, swinging a sad piece of wood at his murderers (not a massive spoiler).
Robin Hood is filler, but it’s consumable filler. It feels very 2018, which I don’t remember saying about a film recently, or at all. So I guess that’s to the movies credit.
It’s got all the bells and whistles you need of an action-thriller, plus a little bit of thought-provoking subtext, but nothing that’s going to keep you up at night.
The movie has been released exactly 110 years after the first Robin Hood film – Robin Hood and His Merry Men (1908).